From death's door to mayoral chair
HE WAS given only three days to live in 1989 after an horrific accident -- and now he is a county mayor.
Terry O'Brien (43) was elected unopposed to Kerry's highest office yesterday by his council colleagues -- a first for the Labour man.
As a young man he never dreamed of entering politics. But then again, Mr O'Brien had no idea of what else lay in store for him.
In August 1989, at the age of 20, he was involved in a diving accident in New York that left him paralysed.
"I was acting the ape, as usual, around the pool when it happened," Mr O'Brien told the Irish Independent.
"Doctors said I'd only live for three days because of my injuries but I don't be listening to people at all," he joked.
Mr O'Brien, who is one of a family of 10 and from Strand Road in Tralee, went on to defy the medical experts.
On his return to Ireland, he spent a year at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.
Apart from his work as a public representative, he also works full-time for the Irish Wheelchair Association as a community-development officer.
He and his wife Teresa O'Sullivan are also parents to five-year-old twins, Mark and Millie.
He has served on Kerry County Council since 2004 and has been on Tralee Town Council since 1999, being town mayor on four occasions and deputy mayor twice.
He also unsuccessfully contested the 2007 General Election for Labour despite getting 10.9pc of first preferences votes in the North Kerry constituency.